The Continent or the “Grand Large”? Strategic Culture and Operational Burden-Sharing in NATO

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© The Author (2017). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the International Studies Association. All rights reserved. We argue that NATO allies exhibiting more "Atlanticist" strategic cultures allocate a greater share of their defense resources to Alliance priorities than those exhibiting "Europeanist" strategic cultures. Our analysis builds on policy discussions regarding imbalances in burden-sharing in transatlantic security. Scholarship in the fields of international security and political economy offers plausible explanations for these imbalances, but does not address how allies allocate resources within defense budgets and does not statistically test effects of cultural variables on such decisions. Using evidence from 89 national security strategy documents of 24 NATO allies, we argue that the more states' strategic cultures tend toward Atlanticism, the more resources they allocated to military operations during a period in which such operations were the Alliance's top priority. During the height of NATO's "out of area" period from 2000 to 2012, there was a strong, positive correlation between, on the one hand, Atlanticist language in such documents and, on the other, allies' allocation of financial resources to military operations-as opposed to personnel, infrastructure, or equipment.





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Becker, J, and E Malesky (2017). The Continent or the “Grand Large”? Strategic Culture and Operational Burden-Sharing in NATO. International Studies Quarterly, 61(1). pp. 163–180. 10.1093/isq/sqw039 Retrieved from

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Edmund Malesky

Professor of Political Science

Malesky is a specialist on Southeast Asia, particularly Vietnam. Currently, Malesky's research agenda is very much at the intersection of Comparative and International Political Economy, falling into three major categories: 1) Authoritarian political institutions and their consequences; 2) The political influence of foreign direct investment and multinational corporations; and 3) Political institutions, private business development, and formalization.

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